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Kyla DeHaan Awarded 2015 Calvin B. DeWitt Fellowship

Apr 16, 2015

Kyla DeHaan of Redeemer University College (Ontario) is Au Sable’s Calvin B. DeWitt Leadership Fellowship recipient for 2015. DeWitt's visionary leadership led Au Sable from its inception, and called upon the wider Christian community to care for the earth out of joy for God’s gift of creation and out of our responsibility as earthkeepers tasked with serving and protecting it.  Kyla is preparing for this work with an intention to become active in agricultural missions, and will be taking courses at Au Sable’s Pacific Rim Campus this year to complete her double major in International Development and Environmental Science. At Pacific Rim, Kyla will be taking Ecological Agriculture with Dr. Ron Vos (Dordt College, Iowa) and International Development and Environmental Sustainability with Dr. Michael Ferber (The King’s University, Alberta). Kyla chose these courses because as she puts it “I love agriculture and want to gain practical skills on how to sustainably use it to benefit the environment and communities around the world.”  

The DeWitt Fellowship is not only about recognizing superior academic achievement (Kyla’s cumulative college GPA is 3.90), but, even more importantly, about recognizing leadership in creation care. Kyla has been exercising her gifts of leadership in, among other ways, working at a local Hamilton, Ontario food bank called Neighbor 2 Neighbor (N2N). At N2N, Kyla developed the organization’s Cross Cultural Diversity Training Program, showing staff members how to more effectively relate to and serve individuals from different (and non-Canadian) cultures who used the food bank. At N2N, Kyla not only delivered food, but also learned the value of having it grow in urban community gardens. But Kyla was only just beginning to diversify her agricultural skills. Working during the summer of 2014 for the Canadian Goat Soap Company (yes, there really is such an organization), Kyla learned how to herd, milk, bed, and feed goats, as well as how to make goat cheese and “goat soap” (which is made from goat’s milk). As goats are important animals in pastoral cultures worldwide, this is extremely practical knowledge. Kyla notes that the most important thing she learned from her experience with goats was “how to prioritize work tasks and have fun while doing it.  Taking care of animals involves being available at all times and being prepared for the unexpected, but not getting frustrated that emergencies may take away from your planned daily tasks.”  

Kyla’s life and work are respected by all who know her. Dr. Robert Joustra, Director of the Centre for Christian Scholarship at Redeemer University College said of Kyla, “I would rate her as one of the best students I have ever taught, not only for her keen intellect, but her relaxed and conversational demeanor. She is far ahead of her peers in maturity in both faith and professionalism.” Ida Kaastra Mutoigo, Director of World Renew, Canada, who has known Kyla as a student at Redeemer, said of her, “She has a lot of innate gifts and high energy for pursuing a successful career in missions.” Kyla affirms that judgment, noting, “Through the grace of God I became convinced halfway through my first year that I was being called into another field, particularly related to agriculture. Therefore in my second year I transferred schools as well as my major to international development and environmental studies with the intent of pursuing a career in agricultural missions.”

All of us here at Au Sable congratulate Kyla on her award as the 2015 DeWitt Fellow, and commend her for his aspiration to serve others as a servant of Jesus Christ. Welcome Kyla, we look forward to having you here!